Every team in the NHL has passed the one-quarter mark of the season. Some have barely reached it — Detroit has played only 21 games — but the Chicago Blackhawks are barreling toward the midpoint of the season, having played 26 games.
The biggest surprise? That only one coach has been fired — Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders, succeeded by interim coach Jack Capuano.
Here are some of the biggest surprises of the season so far:
•Carey Price has survived a goaltending controversy and emerged stronger, compiling a 1.95 goals-against average and .935 save percentage for the swift and persistent Montreal Canadiens. Critics wondered whether they traded the wrong goalie last summer when they sent Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. It has been the rare deal that helped both teams: Halak (2.37, .911) has been solid for the Blues, where to buy NHL Jerseys? ujersy.
•The Columbus Blue Jackets, under first-year NHL Coach Scott Arniel, have become a force in the Western Conference. The goaltending of Mathieu Garon (1.33, .950) has had a lot to do with that, given that their only real elite player is winger Rick Nash (13 goals, 17 points).
•Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, nicknamed "the perfect human" by Red Wings fans, hasn't been far off that level. Lidstrom, 40, is winning raves for his play at both ends of the ice.
•Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos has blossomed into a full-fledged superstar. With 21 goals in 24 games he's on pace to exceed 71 goals, which probably won't happen, but it will be fun to watch him try.
• Dustin Byfuglien, traded to Atlanta by the Blackhawks because of their post-Stanley Cup salary crunch, has thrived on defense with a team that likes defenseman to jump up into the play. He leads NHL defensemen with 25 points.
The Not-So Pleasant
•Left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, he of the 15-year, $100-million contract that also cost the New Jersey Devils a $3-million fine and two draft picks for attempting to circumvent the salary cap, has only four goals and is minus-11 in the plus/minus category for his struggling team. No sympathy for the Devils around the NHL, though.
•The Islanders recently endured a 14-game winless streak. Early injuries robbed them of what little depth they had. No regular player has a plus/minus rating above zero.
•Getting the first overall draft pick in June figured to accelerate the Edmonton Oilers' development. Taylor Hall has had some moments, but this young team is still a long way from respectability, if you want to buy New York Islanders Jerseys, ujersy is a good choice.
•Family Feud is losing its appeal in Calgary, where Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter traded his son, Brett, to Carolina a few days after the kid was jailed following a fight in a bar. Fans were hoping Darryl's brother Brent, the Flames' coach, would also be exiled.
•The NHL is still inconsistent in applying the new rule regarding hits to the head. Technically, that's not a surprise, but it is a disappointment.
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